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Celebrating the Feast of St Mary MacKillop - 3rd August 2014
In 2011 the liturgical observance of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop on 8th August was raised to the level of a solemnity. By having her feast day celebrated as the highest liturgical rank, the Church in Australia acknowledges that the story of and devotion to Mary MacKillop has a prominent place in the Catholic community and beyond. It is important therefore that the feast of Mary MacKillop which falls in the coming week be celebrated with joyous thanksgiving in parishes and schools across the country.
What does it mean to celebrate a Saint’s feast day?
“By celebrating the passage of these saints from earth to heaven the Church proclaims the paschal mystery achieved in the saints who have suffered and been glorified with Christ; she proposes them to the faithful as examples drawing all to the Father through Christ, and through their merits she pleads for God’s favours.” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy #104)
We venerate the saints as human beings transformed by the grace of God. When we celebrate the feast of a saint, we give glory to God who has done marvellous things in the life of one of us. We imitate the saints because they offer examples of how to be disciples of Christ. We invoke the intercession of the saints in the sense that we ask the saints to pray to God on our behalf, just as we might ask a friend or family member to pray for us.
As always, it is the readings and prayers for the feast of Australia’s first saint that are the focus of the liturgy. Because the feast has the rank of solemnity, the Mass includes the Gloria and Creed and three readings.
A Collect, Prayer over the Offerings, Prayer after Communion and Solemn Blessing are given in the Missal for the Mass of the feast. There is no special Preface for the day, and the Missal indicated that Prefaces I or II of Saints may be used. The Preface for Australia Day would also be apt:
For from ancient times you made this land
a home for many peoples,
and became their rock of strength;
when they were hungry, you gave them food,
and when thirsty, water even in the desert.
To all, your providence has proclaimed
the Good News of Jesus Christ, your Son,
sent by you to be the Saviour of all the world,
who has brought peace by his sacrifice on the Cross. (Australia Day)
The first reading is I Kings 17:8-16 (The jar of meal shall not be spent); the psalm is Psalm 63 with response “My soul clings to you; your right hand holds me fast”; the second reading is Colossians 3:12-17 (Above all have love, which is the bond of perfection); the Gospel is Matthew 6:25-34 (Do not worry about your life).
Parishes and schools are encouraged to use the strong and singable hymn for the feast written by Archbishop Mark Coleridge. The full accompaniment version is available on the Liturgy Brisbane website at http://liturgybrisbane.net.au/doctypes/daughter-of-australia/.